Why I Left Lyft

I joined Lyft in July 2017.
It's been 2.5 years and it's the longest job I've had in my life so far.

It was a bumpy ride in the beginning though.

I joined to work on Mobile Infrastructure: tools, build systems, libraries, CI, etc but ended up being constantly assigned to work on UI tests (I regret mentioning my experience with Android Instrumentation tests to this day).

Big part of that problem was my manager.
On 1:1s we'll agree that I need to work on CI, build systems and better IDE experience but then on meetings with more people, especially with other teams he would commit my time to their tasks.

That went on for about half a year until it reached a tipping point and I had to talk to multiple directors to address the problem.

Only then I actually started working on mobile infrastructure.

To be fair, I don't think this was a systemic issue, but rather one manager acting in his own interests and once the group figured it out (big orgs are inertial) it fixed the problem. All the managers I had after that were really good.


Sounds like a typical "Why person X left company Y" tech story, right?

Well, just last week I've read at least two articles like this one, but bear with me it is not.
While everything above is true, this entire post you're reading is an attempt to close the irony cycle that went way too far. A result of what at best I can call a silly joke and at worst a nightmare PR disaster lol.

So, what happened?

People who know me know that I'm pretty dank when it comes to memes and humor. If you follow me in twitter, you probably know that once in a while I like to be sarcastic about common trends.
Here is how it went.

Chronology

Friday, between 5PM and 6PM

Some of the teams at Lyft were about to move to different parts of the Lyft HQ buildings. This was due to internal restructuring of the office space, a 4th time while I work there I think. We were asked to pack our stuff in rented orange crates.

At this point, I looked at my stuff in the crate, in that orange crate, and thought:

Wouldn't it be funny to post it as like I'm leaving the company lol?

(No. No it wouldn't, Artem, it wouldn't. I mean I still laugh, sometimes sincerely, sometimes sweaty 😅, but no)

I hope in the end the magnitude of stupidity of my joke will bring a smile to your face too.

Sounds stupid right?

Well,

I thought I was being smart by being ironic about common trend in tech industry:

  • When you leave you're expected to post a picture of your badge on top of your laptop (basically, it's a meme)
  • When you leave you're expected to put "Ex-Google/etc" in your profile, some going as far as mentioning all ex companies (which I find hilarious)
  • When you leave you're expected to write "Why I Left X" which is the post you're reading right now

I thought a large orange crate would look funny and obviously ironic. At this point I showed the first version of the photo to @alexjlockwood and he was like: haha, you gotta put your badge on it (Yes, yes, I somehow forgot that the badge is very important part of the meme). So I did, then I came up with what you probably saw in twitter:

https://twitter.com/artem_zin/status/1187888113588129792

The text was result of me browsing /r/technicallythetruth and other dank subs way too much. For those who are not into post-irony — this is what was in my head:

Obviously ironic picture (who packs their stuff into a giant orange crate, more on that later) and wording on which I thought:

"well, I'm leaving Lyft office and going to work with some of my colleagues on the new floor back on Monday right?" /r/technicallythetruth or so I thought lol

Then I went ahead and updated my Twitter profile by adding:

Ex-3rd floor Channel building @lyft

As of "Where did I go?"

I went to gym and then halloween-clubbing till 6 AM (danced so hard you can probably find me on few different instagrams), still thinking what a funny joke did I pull off.

Why I Thought People Will Get the Joke

The Picture

1) The Orange Crate

Questions I had in my head I thought someone will ask:

  • Why pack stuff in a crate? Are we in some 90s office sitcom?
  • Where did Artem get the crate?
  • If Lyft gave Artem the crate, will he need to get back to the office to return the crate??
  • If Artem had such a large crate at home, did he really bring it and what does he use it for when he is not leaving another company?
2) The Power Strip
  • Lyft is not as rich as Google or Facebook, but can't they provide a power strip?

In fact, a friend of my friend actually posted power strip as a sarcastic comment (!) which I find funny in either case: if they understood my original intention and if they didn't

https://twitter.com/_bobrusha/status/1188015225129320448

Twitter Profile

1) "Ex-3rd floor Channel building @lyft"
  • Sounds a bit too specific?
2) "Post-irony shitposting"

(Couldn't describe it better could you haha, yeaaah)

If you're not familiar with post-irony:

Post-irony is a state in which earnest and ironic intents become muddled

Or in usual words — it's hard to distinguish irony from sincerity and that's the point.

But at the same time, well, it just says something you can typically find in a twitter profile.

What's interesting is that almost 1000 people went to my profile according to twitter analytics and yet that didn't help 😅

(More on analytics later)

Previous Tweets

Just two days before that I posted an update from AndroidDevSummit

https://twitter.com/artem_zin/status/1187181091477549056

The relevant part in it is this:

It won't stop us from migrating to Bazel, and it's actually good to get some answer

Where I say that I will continue working on Bazel at Lyft, and then I quit two days later? If that was true, did I rage quit or got fired? Weird right? (Or so I thought)

In fact, few people directly asked if that answer from Google was the reason why I left Lyft 😅

Saturday

I observed the joke getting worse and worse, people started messaging me everywhere to get more details (I wish I could post screenshots, some are hilarious, yes yes I feel really bad).

I was desperately trying to find a good way to revert the joke.

I decided to not reply to anyone until I weight all the options.

By the end of Saturday it didn't feel funny anymore, the thing just kept growing uncontrollably leaving me less options to get out of it.

Sunday

It was the first time when I checked the tweet stats and yikes, the numbers were ridiculous.

Have you ever had this moment when one minute you're sincerely laughing out loud and the next minute you're sweating the hell out thinking "what the f@#% did I get myself into" and then laughing again on repeat? Well, I've seen it in movies and anime, but now I lived it.

While working out at the gym I concluded that since the joke went that far, the only reasonable solution is to push it even further and write "Why I Left Lyft" post that you're reading to complete the irony cycle about how people in twitter leave tech companies.

https://twitter.com/artem_zin/status/1188703808316002304

Monday

We have this periodic "Mobile All Hands" meeting where different mobile teams share their tech & product updates (there are over a hundred mobile engineers at Lyft).

This time "Mobile All Hands" started with one of mobile infra managers announcing "Just to confirm, Artem STILL WORKS at Lyft"

Then at the middle of the meeting I had to present updates from my team and I started it with

"On my last day I'd like to give some updates about build systems in Android project haha"

In turn, this seemed to cause even more confusion (ohh sweet irony huh) as few people DMed me in Slack asking where am I going after Lyft

Btw, back then on Friday @alexjlookwood posted that it was a joke in our Slack, yet it didn't really help 😅

Tuesday

So, here is the post. I predict wide range of reactions but I hope in the end you will find it funny and smile after realizing what a stupid situation I've gotten myself into. I don't think this will change the "leaving tech company" thing though, maybe for a day?

This was for sure one of the stupidest things I've done (especially in one tweet), gladly it's not as bad as Elon Musk tweeting that he's taking Tesla private causing himself to be investigated by SEC, fined $20M and force-stepped down as a chairman at Tesla.

If you think that the joke wasn't funny and its setup was really bad, I agree lol. I'm sincerely sorry about the confusion I caused, I will continue ironizing, just probably not as seriously as in this one.

I'm also glad that a lot of people I work with at Lyft took it as while tremendously stupid, but yet a funny joke, including my engineering director with whom I have 1:1 tomorrow so I guess we'll see 😅

Books that could have helped me to prevent and you to spot this situation:

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